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Posted: 5/29/2002 4:50:46 PM EST
Israel has launched its second photo-reconnaissance satellite, just over five years after the first one was launched.

Ofeq ('Horizon') 5 was launched from Israel's Palmachim site at approximately 15.24 GMT on 28 May, and it looks to be a close repeat of the Ofeq 3 mission.

While Israel has never been specific about the payloads of its satellites, Elbit Systems did issue a press release stating that Ofeq 5 is equipped with an 'advanced camera supplied by El-Op' (an Elbit subsidiary). El-Op is known to have supplied an electro-optic high-resolution earth-imaging camera for the Ofeq 3: a programme that gave a major boost to the Israeli firm's space-based observation expertise.

The naming of the new satellite is an attempt to 'hide' the true identity of the Israeli launch failure in January 1998. The satellite on the failed launch was not immediately named by the Israelis, but other press agencies dubbed it 'Ofeq 4'. Later literature from the company that operates the related EROS satellites has confirmed that it was the first EROS satellite on the failed launch (albeit using an Ofeq satellite bus), as opposed to a domestic Ofeq payload. Much later the Israelis themselves started to call the failed satellite 'Ofeq 4' to hide the true nature of the payload actually launched. The numbering of the new satellite continues this deception.

The first two Ofeq satellites were launched in September 1988 and April 1990, and these were followed by two failed launches in 1991 and 1993 before Ofeq 3 was launched in 1995. Thus, the new satellite is actually the sixth Ofeq to be launched, and the fourth to reach orbit.

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